Apple Mecca

October 30, 2005 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Fun Outdoors, Macintosh | 11 Comments

AppleInsider reports that the most magnificent Apple Store is being built in Manhattan. The store will be underground, but at street level, a silver-and-glass cube will mark the entrance. Mac users are known for having a religioius zeal for their platform, so it’s fitting that during construction, the Apple Store cube has a strong resemblance to an actual religious monument.

Lutz The Putz

October 20, 2005 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Fun Outdoors, Rants, Technology | 2 Comments

This quote by General Motors Vice Chairman Robert Lutz neatly explains why GM is going down the crapper.

If you have hybrids you’re OK, and if you don’t you’re not … I’d say Toyota scored a major coup with hybrids even though they didn’t have a business case.”

When he said about not having a business case, he meant that it did not make sense to take a high-mileage economy car and hybridize it. First, that is wrong – a Corolla gets about 30-35 mpg while a Prius gets 50. If you do the math correctly, that is a minimum 42% improvement in mileage, while GM plans to get at least a 60% improvement in their hybridized vehicles (most likely an SUV). To me, a 42% improvement is not insignificant. The second point is the one he totally missed — when people consider hybrids, they don’t compare it to a similar non-hybrid, but they’re comparing it to their current vehicle. So, instead of a 42% improvement, SUV-to-Prius converts are looking at a 200% or more improvement in mileage.

Lutz doesn’t realize that Toyota bet that higher gas prices would result in lower SUV sales in favor of smaller cars. Once that happens, they will choose the car with the best mileage, and not necessarily a $20k econobox (after all, they could afford a $30k+ SUV in the first place).

Hey Bob – a competitor taking advantage of your company’s overexposure to SUVs sounds like a good business case. What a clueless overpaid twit. Companies unwilling to take long-term risks will lose to those who do.

(Inspired by this message from the Yahoo! toyota-prius discussion list

Apple vs P2P video quality

October 15, 2005 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Fun Indoors | Leave a comment

Below is a quick comparison of video quality between files available on P2P networks and Apple’s videos from the iTunes Music Store. This is a scene from Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” video starring everyone’s favorite psycho Christopher Walken. The first one is an MPEG-1 video while the second one is from Apple. The latter is much better looking and can be viewed on a small-to-medium sized TV without too much degradation. For $2, you are assured of a minimum level of quality from Apple, while P2P quality tends to vary a lot; some P2P videos are simply awful and badly edited.

Snuffing The Smurfs

October 11, 2005 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Politics, Rants | Leave a comment

Smurfs are the latest casualty in advertising’s race to the gutter. In a tasteless anti-war ad for UNICEF, the cuddly blue creatures are carpet-bombed, complete with flames, bodies, and crying babies.

In order to help children in other countries, UNICEF has decided that it is acceptable to traumatize the children of contributors. That plan will work about as well as the RIAA suing their customers.

Of course, I’ll be waiting for the video, not the series of stills floating around the web.

Prius Mods #2

October 8, 2005 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Fun Outdoors | Leave a comment

Today I performed a few more improvements to my Prius. I installed side mouldings ($115 from Metro Toyota of Cleveland) which nicely improves on the very plain Toyota door and will help prevent door dings from other cars in the parking lot. The second upgrade is more important – it lets me save at least two hours per week during my commute.

“Can outrun a BMW on the South 405 during rush hour”

Another Flu Vaccine Snafu

October 8, 2005 at 7:30 am | Posted in Politics, Rants | Leave a comment

The depths of incompetence of the Bush Administration has again been shown by its inability to learn from problems last year with flu vaccine availability. This year, the United States may not receive enough doses of a specific flu medicine (Tamiflu) because it waited too long to place orders. Even if it got the doses, the governments’ reaction to a flu pandemic will probably be inadequate. Recent scientific research has shown that the 1918 pandemic which killed millions of people is similar to the current avian flu making the rounds in Asia today. Should we not treat this threat as seriously as hurricanes or WMD-toting terrorists?

It’s not that Bush doesn’t care about black people; it’s just that he doesn’t care about people in general.

Mr. Obvious Award

October 1, 2005 at 9:24 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment

The Mr. Obvious Award this morning goes to Shawn Piatek of the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tribune-Democrat on his observations on local hybrid demand. I guess when you don’t carry a product, your sales of said product would be pretty close to zero:

At Suppes Ford, 101 Main St., downtown Johnstown, and Alvin’s Honda, 107 Bantley Place, Windber, demand for hybrids has been low and sales even lower.

Ford offers two models — the Escape and the Mercury Mariner — neither of which are even carried by Suppes.

In contrast, California is responsible for 1/3 of Toyota’s hybrid sales.

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